With each growing year, we see accomplishments being made in the world of animal welfare. Much like declawing cats, society has pushed forward-thinking to guide the process towards better health and safety of our animals. But what about the concept of debarking your dog? This conversation has been brought to light by a Michigan lawmaker, state representative Tim Sneller, who has introduced a new bill that would effectively ban the practice of debarking dogs.
What does debarking a dog mean? The process, also sometimes referred to as devocalization, involves the removal of tissue inside the vocal cords of the animal. The procedure can eliminate barking, but in many cases only diminishes it and causes a quieter bark. It is often used in dogs with behavioral problems that could possibly be corrected with training instead. You may wonder why someone would choose to go to the extent of having this surgery done on their animal, but there is still debate between both veterinarians and pet owners as to whether this process should be considered cruelty.
Snell, the lawmaker seeking to make this procedure illegal, considers it to be extremely harmful to the animal. According to the Detroit Free Press (https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/05/25/dog-debarking-michigan/642916002/), Snell believes that we should not disable an animal we choose to own from being able to communicate with us. Whether it be the needs of the animal, or them simply speaking to their owners, a bark is a helpful tool that we need in order to properly own an animal. “That’s the way the dog communicates with us. To have this done just because you don’t want to hear a dog bark is cruel and unusual punishment,” Snell said.
As reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, also known as the AMVA (https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Pages/sr-elective-procedures.aspx), six states currently have laws against devocalization of dogs. In Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, it is almost impossible to find a way to debark your animal. Rhode Island and California both have laws that make it illegal for a landlord to force you to debark your dog to occupy a residence. While only six out of our fifty states have laws concerning this controversial procedure, with Snell’s help Michigan might be next on the list.